Ashland University Lecture to Discuss Theology and Immigration

Ashland University Lecture to Discuss Theology and Immigration

3/11/14 ASHLAND, Ohio – Theologian Justin Ashworth of Duke University will give a lecture titled "The Location of Peoplehood: A Theological Contribution to Immigration Debates" on Monday, March 17, at 7 p.m. in the Ridenour Room of the Dauch College of Business and Economics on the Ashland University campus.

The lecture, which is sponsored by Ashland University’s Religion Department, is free and open to the public.

Ashworth believes that theology and immigration are connected in a number of ways.

“At the most basic level, most migrants from Latin America have some religious convictions, most often Christian; theologians ought to care about these convictions and their influence on migrants and those with whom they have contact,” Ashworth said. “Moreover, many theologians understand their task as the attempt to speak coherently about God and all things in relation to God.”

Ashworth said theologians should not neglect this important aspect of human and Christian life. From another perspective, some argue that theologians should focus especially on how to understand individual and social wounds in relation to God.

“Immigration debates in America are so lively, I think, in part because so many wounds are exposed: questions of race, gender and class, obedience to the law, the deaths of migrants attempting to cross the border, cultural identity, national security and a number of others,” he said. “Theologians do well to ask what type of healing God is bringing to these wounds and how churches and others of good will can respond to, and be part of, that healing.”

Ashworth believes that churches must form relationships with migrants because they offer Christians an opportunity to point back to God’s promises to bring all things together in Jesus Christ and forward to the time when that promise is made manifest. “The most obvious type of relationship is face-to-face, either individually or communally. We should share life together and be open to being changed through this shared life,” he said.

Ashworth said “immigration reform” often claims to be “comprehensive,” but virtually no mainstream politician has tried to shift our focus away from border politics. He believes this is a terrible mistake.

“The militarization of the border, as seen most recently in the ‘border surge’ sneaked into the Senate bill of summer 2013, has several serious problems. It would radically increase spending on our already-monstrous border apparatus. It could not avoid failing to meet its objective of complete border security—border patrol agents simply cannot check every vehicle that crosses the border by land or sea,” he said. “Most importantly it would signal America’s willingness to treat Latin America as a political enemy, despite historically deep economic, political and cultural ties. You do not point guns at friends. Good neighbors may be separated by fences, but these fences are not manned with armed guards and meticulously scrutinized by drones. And good neighbors certainly do not let each other die attempting to cross the fence.”

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###